"It's been years and it still hurts": Paediatric Critical Care staff experiences of being involved in serious investigations at work: a qualitative study

Rachael Morrison, Esra Yeter, Hena Syed-Sabir, Isabelle Butcher*, Heather Duncan, Sarah Webb, Rachel Shaw

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Evidence conducted globally has shown that patient care improves when staff are well. Investigations, although necessary to understand errors and unanticipated events, can be distressing. Feelings of shame and guilt are associated with making mistakes and can lead to moral injury. Objective: To explore staff experiences of investigations to develop a staff care package. Design: Exploratory qualitative. Setting(s): Paediatric Critical Care (PCC) in a UK quaternary hospital. Participants: 14 doctors and nurses. Methods: PCC staff who had experienced an investigation were interviewed individually. Transcripts were analysed using thematic analysis. Results: Fourteen interviews were conducted. Investigations involved Serious incidents, Disciplinary, and Professionalism cases. Four main themes related to: (1) Emotional impact; (2) Negotiating process; (3) Communication challenges; (4) Needing support. Conclusions: This research has identified aspects of the investigation process which can be upsetting for staff, cause unnecessary distress or moral injury. Findings informed a model for a Feelings First Care Pathway for Serious Investigations.
Original languageEnglish
Article number17
Pages (from-to)2-7
Number of pages6
JournalIntensive Care Medicine – Paediatric and Neonatal
Issue number17
Early online date23 Apr 2024
Publication statusPublished - 23 Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

Copyright © The Author(s) 2024. Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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  • Well-being
  • Stress
  • Practice
  • Qualitative methods
  • Psychological distress


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